Judge grants probation to doctor who was key prosecution witness at steroids trial.

A South Carolina doctor whose testimony was crucial in the prosecution of owners of a local pharmacy that supplied thousands of dosages of steroids will not have to spend any time in prison, a federal judge ruled today.

In fact, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade accepted the recommendation of prosecutors and imposed a shorter-than-normal probation term on Pamela Pyle. The osteopath from Myrtle Beach, S.C., will spend only a year on probation — the shortest time allowed by law.

Pyle, 47, pleaded guilty in May 2008 to misprision of a felony, which means she was aware of a crime and concealed it. She was one of the first people targeted in a wide-ranging steroids probe centering on Applied Pharmacy Services.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Dobbins sounded more like she was recommending Pyle for an award than participating in a sentencing hearing. Although advisory sentencing guidelines called for probation, Dobbins asked the judge for a “downward departure” to allow the shorter probation term.

“I know that sounds strange,” Dobbins said. “We want this court to be aware of the full extent of Dr. Pyle’s cooperation.”

Dobbins told Granade that Pyle immediately cooperated after learning that she was under investigation in summer 2006. The doctor voluntarily surrendered a laptop computer that contained e-mails incriminating a co-defendant. She also testified at a trial of 10 people accused in the steroids conspiracy.

“She made an excellent and credible witness,” Dobbins said. “Her testimony was important throughout the trial.”

Prosecutors contended that the principal owners of Applied Pharmacy ran a steroids mill, reaping millions of dollars from the sale of the drug. The pharmacy shipped the drugs to customers all over the United States, most of whom were seeking anti-aging treatment or help building muscle mass for athletic competition.

According to trial testimony, the customers also included professional athletes, such as former baseball slugger Jose Canseco and wrestler Kurt Angle.

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